CHONGQING -- China said it welcomes U.S. companies to take full advantage of the country's high-tech boom, following U.S. President Donald Trump's recent tweet ordering American companies to leave China amid an escalating trade war between the world's two largest economies.
"Technology development shall not be limited by boundaries," Liu He, Chinese vice premier and Beijing's key trade negotiator, said on Monday at the Smart China Expo in Chongqing.
"Given the nature of its supply chain, [the high-tech industry] requires close collaborations among countries. We welcome companies from all nations, including the U.S., to invest and do business in China," Liu told executives from Intel and other companies at the conference, which opened on Monday and runs until Thursday.
Liu's comments come as the trade dispute between Washington and Beijing has showed no sign of a resolution. On Friday, China said it would impose additional tariffs of 5% or 10% on $75 billion worth of American products, retaliating against the latest round of tariffs announced by Washington.
Trump responded on his Twitter account: "Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China." He urged them to manufacture their products in the U.S.
Later on Friday, Trump said that the existing 25% on $250 billion worth of goods would be raised to 30% as of Oct. 1, and the planned 10% tariff on the remaining $300 billion in goods would instead be 15%. Stocks in Asia tumbled on Monday after the latest round of trade tensions.
It is unclear whether American companies would follow Trump's order or whether the president had the legal authority to impose such a request. Any such change in U.S. companies' operations in China would likely be very costly and involve disrupting supply chains that have been set in place for years or even decades.
Dan McNamara, vice president at Intel, on Monday at the conference in Chongqing thanked the Chinese government and mainland companies for bringing Intel's business to the next level. The Silicon Valley heavyweight is currently collaborating with China Mobile and China Telecom -- two of China's three state-owned telecom operators -- to provide facial recognition technology to Chinese campuses and run visual inspections at factories in the country.
"Without those partners, our technology actually goes nowhere," McNamara said.
As Chinese companies and cities increasingly upgrade their operations, the government has helped to create a multibillion-dollar market for tech providers. In the artificial intelligence sector alone, China reached a market scale of 500 billion yuan ($70.5 billion) last year, Liu said.
Liu pledged on Monday that China will "create a better investment environment" and "protect intelligence property rights."